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07 June 2019 @ 06:32 pm
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09 September 2018 @ 02:29 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 12:

“I have to see her!”

Guess Spike’s awake, Xander thought, trying to rush down the stairs as fast as his battered body could manage. One glance toward the end of the stairwell where he had been flung earlier by Dark Willow was enough to bring back the excruciating headache. Paracetamols were the sissies of painkillers. Next time he was going for Morphine.

“What’s going on?” He found Spike lurching at his chains, wearing the face of a furious starved animal, and yet couldn’t break free. He was able to do it back when Willow was mad with fireballs though, so Xander had better find a way to calm him down.

“He wants to see Buffy.” Dawn stood a few steps away from Mr. Fangs and Furious and seemed about ready to use the fragile wooden chair as a weapon.

“Buffy is fine. Believe me.” Xander mimicked the soothing tone of Cousin Carol when her schipperke bit his dad’s ankle that one summer when Xander was seven. His cousin was too attached to her dog… until her daughter arrived, and that poor little thing was chucked out the window.

“I’ll believe it when I see it!”

“Don’t worry. Willow is taking care of it.”

Spike stopped right away; his pronounced brow ridges met in incredulity. “That’s reassuring.”

“Big talk from the guy who…” Xander zipped his mouth and counted to ten, reining in his temper instead of saying the wrong thing. It was a natural instinct to bite back on Willow’s behalf, but everything Spike had done before the soul was out of the cards now. “Buffy is fine,” he repeated with the pitch of Cousin Carol.

It wasn’t good enough for this schipperke. The pulling and jerking were back, more vicious than before, and Xander’s headache intensified. He shared a tired look with Dawn and then took a couple of steps forward.

“Stop it, will you? All that hullabaloo is giving me a migraine!” Soothing voice was not doing the trick. Frustrated yelling might get the job done.

With a vulgar curse, Spike threw his hands in the air and stumbled on the floor. A one week in advance Christmas miracle. “I would’ve torn my way out if my head didn’t feel like it’s been bashed to pieces on a tombstone.”

Aw. Spike was having sympathy headaches. Like that would ever happen. “Yeah, sorry about that. We all took turns beating the shit outta ya.”

“Not me. I was out of it the whole time.” The whimper in Dawn’s remark attracted Spike’s frown. “Not that I wanted to,” she amended with an embarrassed squeak. “I just like being included.”

“Do you remember what happened?” Xander asked, massaging a blushing Dawn’s shoulder.

Pressing his head against the wall, Spike’s face melted back to his human features. “Nothing,” he gritted out, and Xander caught his hand patting his pocket as if searching for a smoke. Must be nice having something to cool his nerves that didn’t have fatal consequences in the long run. Alcohol was Xander’s escape after the wedding he’d bailed on, except he had realized it was turning him into his old man, extra grouchy, extra violent. He had cut down to an occasional glass after his reconciliation with Buffy in her backyard.

“I’m sorry for what I did.” Face dead serious, Spike focused on him with surprising intensity.

Xander gave a heartening headshake. “It wasn’t you.”

“It was me. My body, right? You know what it’s like.”

“What’s what like?”

“That one time you were possessed by a cheetah.”

“A hyena,” Xander corrected. Though being possessed by a cheetah would have been ten times cooler. “And you listened?”

“’Course I did. Just didn’t want you to know.”

“Makes sense.” Asshole.

“Point is, whether I was in control or not, people were still hurt. People I…” He trailed off, probably so he wouldn’t admit that the Scooby gang were people he cared about. “Doesn’t matter. You feel bad for those you hurt.”

Flashbacks poured back in a vengeful flood after that last sentence. The awful crap Xander divulged on Willow, hitting Lance during a dodgeball game, chasing Buffy across town to feast on her. It was his trigger, the hyena possession.

Those memories used to haunt him every time he was in the solitude of his room, away from prying eyes and useless comforting words. Like Jesse and Miss French and Faith and his parents and the visions at his wedding, he kept it all to himself. It was his pain and he could handle it himself. If only it didn’t slip out in bursts of anger at his unaware friends at the worst possible times.

But his anger was the least of his problems right now. He never realized that just like he was hiding his pain from his friends, they were also hiding theirs from him. That day, he had tested the waters, asked Buffy and Willow if he had done something to them, gave them the chance to speak up. There had been grins and headshakes and he had clung to them like an airless life raft in a sea of denial.

The one flashback he dreadfully tried to ignore was his leather-ass possessed self making unwanted advances at Buffy in the faculty room. Grabbing her shoulders and pushing her against the vending machine. Shoving his lips on her neck. With a sad, sad realization, it dawned on him that he, too, had attempted to rape Buffy under the influence of an evil possession.

She had responded to his question the next day with a broad smile that emulated the smiles he had worn after the crap he’d endured from Miss French and Faith. The it-doesn’t-matter smile. The I’m-okay smile. He was not okay, and Buffy must have not been as well.

“Buffy in good hands?” Spike asked, regarding him with a hint of curiosity that didn’t reach the importance of Buffy’s wellbeing.

“Don’t worry,” Xander replied, trying with difficulty to block the fresh load of flashbacks. “Willow is trying to give her new skin. Since she’s beat from… well, you know. She’s transporting energy from Anya to Buffy. Said that Anya’s the strongest person in the house.”

Spike sat up straight, one heavy brow sloped in indignant disbelief. “Not true. I’m the strongest. Should be me up there. Buffy would be right on her feet like that.” He snapped his fingers for effect.

“But wouldn’t your powers be demonic? Would demon powers help Buffy improve?” Dawn crossed her arms, looking more like her sister as she loomed over Spike with a skeptical stare.

There were days when Dawn used to idolize Spike and follow him around to his crypt. The way she’d gush over his horror stories of a past filled with death and torture. It used to rub Xander the wrong way, especially after the bathroom incident. Heck, it was why he let the cat jump out of his bag. He couldn’t listen to Dawn hero-worship the guy and demand to seek his help after what he had done to Buffy.

It didn’t matter now, right? Spike came back a new man with his shiny soul, just like Xander returned to his normal self after the possession wore off. What remained were the scars they had left on Buffy, the scars Xander didn’t care enough back then to apologize for.

Conscience troubled with absolute guilt, he almost missed Spike’s response to Dawn, “Why else do you think Willow had picked Anya over Harris?”

Dawn twisted her lips but didn’t seem to have a satisfying answer to that. “But you’re hurt,” she eventually pointed out. “I don’t think you have much strength for it.”

“I have more than a human can offer.” Spike switched his hard stare to Xander. “What do you say? I’m your best shot and you know it.”

Xander studied him for a second, taking in by the man’s determination to do good by Buffy, and then gave a single, decisive dip of the chin.

Dawn let out a defeated breath and helped Spike out of his chains. He swayed a little and held his head with a wince. “You sure you’re up for it?” she asked with a hint of uncertainty.

Spike rejoined with a hunky-dory nod followed by a smirk he usually reserved for Dawn in the olden days. She appeared taken aback by it and relented with a small smile.

Leading the way, Xander pushed the troubling thoughts aside to deal with later. There were more urgent matters at hand. Putting Buffy back together was his priority.

The air was still and quiet inside Buffy’s room. He turned to Spike and Dawn over his shoulder and signaled for them to be quiet so as not to disturb the somber silence.

Until he stepped on an empty blood bag on the floor and it rustled. It was an extremely faint sound, but it was enough to snap Anya’s eyes wide open. Nothing got past her bunny ears. She’d never appreciate the irony of the metaphor.

“The nerve of you, people. Interrupting our very delicate and sexy therapeutic time.”

“Sorry about that.” Xander’s reply came out wistful when he caught the intense staring match between Buffy and Spike. As if they were literally lost in each other’s eyes. It happened for a split of a second before Spike averted his gaze to Buffy’s still damaged arm.

Xander looked at Buffy’s uncomfortable expression, feeling a tinkle of relief when noticing the spotless skin on her cheek and neck. “How are you doing, Buff?”

“Getting better.” She sounded a bit miffed, either because they had interrupted the healing process or because Xander allowed Spike out of his chains. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Spike came to offer his services.” Dawn took a seat next to her sister and examined her arm with a disappointed grimace.

Willow bumped up in her seat. “Yes. That… that’ll actually work much better.” She swung a wink Buffy’s way. “And faster.”

Anya’s mouth hung open when Willow dumped her hand. “Hey, you’re gonna toss me aside like that ‘cause something better…” She suddenly blinked, staring into space. “Whoo, kinda woozy there. I guess it’s time for Spike to take over.” Now on her feet, she oscillated and would have fallen down if it wasn’t for Xander catching her. “Thanks. Actually, no. I don’t need your giant hands to keep me from falling. I can do it on my own.”

Xander let go of her. She sank to the floor.

“Oh, balls.” Anya glared at Xander’s extended hand and reluctantly let him help her up. “I’m in desperate need for new energy. Who do you schmooze to get a decent meal around here?”

“Sorry, Anya. I can’t think of anything but my ruined bedsheets. They need to be burned, and tomorrow I’m shopping for new ones.” Dawn disregarded Buffy’s disapproving eyebrow and pitched a lost-puppy pout Anya’s way. “Wanna help me get rid of them?”

“I’ve just had a heart to heart with the girls here that helped me grow as a person. I don’t do blunt and rude anymore. So let me think of a polite way to refuse.” Anya beamed. Politely.

“We can give Andrew a hard time?” Dawn’s lower lip puckered out cutely to appeal to the woman who thought cute things were terrifying.

“Tempting, but I still decline on account of my unfilled batteries.”

“If you help me, I’ll buy you something delicious out of my allowance.” She jumped to the dressing table and snatched some money out of the drawer.

“Hey!” Buffy’s protest went unheard as Dawn waved the money in front of an eager Anya’s face.

“Well, Dawnie, I’m gonna cozy you up like I’ve never did anyone before.” Anya rethought what she said. “Not in a sexual way. ‘Cause you’re a kid and I’m nearing eleven forty-two, or was that forty-three? Can’t keep track of my real age. Point being there’s the huge gap factor, not that it stopped me from dating Xander.”

When Anya started chattering like a scatterbrained hen, it was better to stop her. Xander stuffed his hand in his pocket and slapped a couple of Jacksons in her palm. “There. Go ahead and recharge your batteries.”

Anya and Dawn squealed in union and stampeded out of the room.

“Funny how Anya is able to run when seconds ago she could barely stand,” Willow commented with observant features.

“Hey, Dawn! Get back with my money!”

The room falling into awkward silence was the only answer Buffy got. Xander unglued his gaze from his stained and cracked promotion shoes to survey the state of discomfort on the others’ faces. Willow was examining the condition of Buffy’s arm with a discontented, puckered brow. Buffy and Spike were stealing glances like a couple of middle schoolers who didn’t want to be caught by their peers. Except they were caught by Xander, more than once today.

He cleared his throat. “So…”

The star-crossed lovers looked away instantly. Spike squired his shoulders and scratched the back of his neck, looking at Willow. “What should I do?”

“Just hold my hand.” She patted Anya’s empty spot on the bed.

Moving with an awkward limp, Spike was face to face with Xander. He stood there, eyebrows going up and wrinkling his forehead. Xander wrinkled his forehead, too. Nostrils flaring, Spike jerked his chin at the bed spot Xander was blocking.

“Oh.” Xander moved away quickly, the back of his foot bumping against the foot of the bed. Good thing his foot was protected by the leather of his shoes or the whole thing would have been extra embarrassing with a squeak of ouch.

Everything settled into a smooth flow with Willow holding Buffy and Spike’s hands in serene concentration. The three formed a triangle connected by the mystical powers of healing while Xander stood out like a pepperoni that made it into a vegetarian pizza.

He should probably head to the living room to make sure the window he had just installed today was not in need of replacement. Fixing broken furniture became his most essential job after Buffy was brought back from the dead. Her financial problems and the non-stop attacks on the house prompted him to become the Summers’s personal carpenter. For he was Xander, the Furniture Renovator. Most thrilling job ever.

Shuffling his feet to the door, he was stopped by Spike’s question, “Is it working?”

“Yes.” Willow eyed the way Spike was studying Buffy’s still glaring injuries, and added, “It’s gonna take time.”

“Get ready for some inevitable snoozing.” Buffy flashed a grin at Willow’s eyeroll.

Spike was immune to the playful exchange as he regarded Buffy with severe gravity. “Once this is over, you should lock me somewhere; an underground cell or inside a metal coffin, anything to ensure I can never get out.” That put a downer on the frisky mood. Xander couldn’t blame him though. Being someone else’s dangerous puppet was risky business, especially when his strings were pulled by a monster with a souled vampires fetish.

Buffy’s face was sharp with a serious frown. “Spike, listen to me…”

“No, you listen.” It came out so aggressive that Xander flinched back. Spike seemed to have noticed it. He bit down on his lip and his next words were more collected. “Buffy, I know you won’t kill me, but I need you to be reasonable here. What happened down there was nothing. You lot got off easy.”

“No, you got off easy.” Willow held Spike’s stare with a strong one. There was no contest there. Willow in her dark state was more terrifying than Spike in his heyday.

“What do I get from locking you up in a Bastille-like prison, Spike?” Buffy reasoned. “I need you in the thick of things. Helping.”

Spike snorted. “Yeah, I was a load of help trying to rip your damn guts out.”

“Then fight it. Find a way out. Guys, this could be the biggest fight of my life. I’m having Slayer dreams on a nightly basis and every single villain so far has warned me about the new evil. Now we know it’s The First. An incorporeal beast that can’t be defeated with stakes or anything physical.”

With a sigh, Buffy leaned back against the pillow, and Xander could see the weight of responsibility bearing down in her weary eyes and slumped shoulders. He couldn’t help thinking back to the hyena incident and whether Buffy lay on her bed like this back then, miserable and afraid.

His regret must have been written on his forehead because Buffy was scowling at him now. Her angry gaze started to slice each one of them as they watched her with passive silence.

“We’ve all screwed up. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. But that was in the past. Beating yourselves up isn’t gonna help me. What I need is you being one hundred percent here, fighting along with me.”

Xander observed the hesitation on Willow and Spike’s expressions, realizing that he had never met The First in person. Spike and Willow, on the other hand, had been manipulated into killing and suicide in that order. He was clearly not important enough to be manipulated, which, ignoring the stupid inferiority glitches inside him, was a very good thing. Not being affected by The First made him the most level-headed person in the house, which made it his responsibility to keep others on their feet and not be swept away in the torrent of the new evil.

Spike shifted, his hand clutching the bed cover. “What if it gets to me again?”

“Then I’ll knock you down,” Xander answered with restored confidence. “Buffy’s right. If we’re shooting for victory, we gotta give it our one hundred percent. I’ll check on the damage around the house, fix what I can, and tomorrow after work I’ll make new weapons.”

The lines of distress around Buffy’s eyes dissolved and a grateful smile brightened her face. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that the damage around the house wouldn’t give him time to make the weapons. If only they had a house-sized Captain America’s shield. Wait. They had better than a circular metal disc.

“Willow, remember that barrier spell you made when we were at the abandoned gas station hiding from those medieval knights? Think you can keep that on tomorrow night?”

A spark of hope danced in Buffy’s eyes. “He’s right. Willow, can you do it?”

“I’ll do my best. Whatever darkness that still lurks inside of me, I’m gonna fight it. I’m here for you. All of me.” She squeezed Buffy’s hand in confirmation.

The droopy air started to renounce itself now that Xander had shaken his brain rattle. Everyone knew their role and how to contribute. Except for one gloomy vampire.

Spike dragged himself out of bed, staggering over to the blood on the nightstand and poked the bag with a lazy finger. He appeared engrossed in the temporary dint his poke created. The three friends glanced at each other while Spike’s attention was on the rich redness inside the plastic bag.

“Spike…” Buffy inclined her eyebrow in question.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop it from taking over.” Shoulders hunched in self-doubt as though all the energy had been drained from him, Spike pulled listlessly at the bowl on the nightstand and then pushed it back to place before it slid and fell to the floor.

“You will be,” Buffy argued back, her healed face supporting the stern glare effectively.

“Why are you so sure?” he said, bitterness turning his voice sour.

“Because of your soul.”

A snort came out in a form of a harsh cough that was followed by several coughs. “Right. Because the soul has magical…”

“Not what I meant. You faced the monster inside of you and you fought for your soul back. You risked everything to be a better man.”

“Buffy…” Spike began, but was unable to come up with a reply. Buffy’s words must have touched him and slipped past the insecurity and self-loathing.

“And you can do it again. You may not see it, but I do.” Her eyes were bright with unquestionable passion. “I believe in you, Spike.”

Xander didn’t know what to feel as he was yet again witnessing another fervent eye-contact. This time the two didn’t try to hide it, caught in the blaze of each other’s eyes, everything else ceased to exist. He was about to remind them about Buffy’s arm when Willow squeezed his hand and shook her head, smiling.

He returned it with a warmer one, tossing another fleeting look at the captivated love birds. He then left the room to do what he did best; keep the house standing.

The End
06 September 2018 @ 03:49 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 11:

Willow turned on the lights in Buffy’s room, feeling her chest constrict as the illumination brought recent memories vividly back to life. Spike’s chair lay on the floor, completely broken with pieces of the torn ropes spread across the room. One unused blood bag was on the nightstand while the other was on the floor; the blood inside had splashed out and formed a huge puddle that stained the dark beige carpet.

She had been to this room three times in the past twenty-four hours, each time with a task more intense and important than the last. The difference in the job prescription now was to undo her own damage.

The load of guilt clotted in the middle of her throat and was too hard to swallow. Caught in her dismay, she almost forgot Buffy was standing right behind her. Willow shifted aside and allowed her more space to walk inside. The bags under Buffy’s eyes appeared more pronounced than the previous night. Their one stop to check in on Andrew had been unnecessary and only managed to tire her friend even more, but the latter insisted on making sure that everyone was all right.

That was Buffy. Always a hero. Even when she winded up getting the short end of the stick.

With that last thought thrashing at her mind, Willow rushed to pull off the blanket and helped Buffy lift her legs on the bed despite her protests. She arranged the pillow behind Buffy’s back to make her more comfortable.

“That’s all right,” Buffy muttered. “How fast can you make this process go?”

The hard stare nearly caused Willow’s already stinging eyes to produce tears. “If we’re talking regeneration, then it’s only one second…”

“Great. Let’s do that.”

Willow’s mouth was almost too dry to speak. “But… it’ll, um, regeneration requires a lot of power, and I’m…”

Buffy threw her head back against the pillow and glared up at the ceiling. “If we’re not doing that, then what are we doing here?”

That thick lump in Willow’s throat began to suffocate her. She was too close to imploding. Be strong, she reproached herself. This was not about her. It was about getting Buffy better. A little negativity from Buffy was just something she deserved.

A compulsory grin was plastered on her lips. “Meditation. You know, what I did after I got my skin eaten by that Grarl demon.” She paused, taking in Buffy’s lack of reaction. “Drawing power from the Earth. Guaranteed healing treatment. The downside is that it’ll take way more than a second.”

Buffy looked at her with a gaze that was more tired than upset. “I can’t waste time lying here. I need to be ready.”

Willow’s features grew kinder. “Buffy, it’s okay. We’ve gone up against The First before.”

“This time it’s different. The stakes are a lot higher. I must put a stop to it before anyone else gets hurt.”

“I’ll… do what I can.”

Willow pulled a chair to sit next to the bed and then extended her hand to Buffy. The injured hand was on hers in an instant. Closing her eyes, Willow concentrated with all her senses on the Earth, brimming with power and potential. She breathed in and tried to access Earth’s energy at its purest form.

Pure. Clean. What Willow wasn’t an hour ago.

She opened her eyes and her first glimpse was on the curtains, pulled closed to hide the window that had reminded her of Tara last night. Right now, all it reminded her of was her loss of control. The day she had unleashed a terrible energy that slaughtered the keeper of darkness. The day she had taken a human life and terrorized her own friends.

A sudden aggrieved hiss brought her out of the horrible memories. Buffy’s face was congested with pain, and looking closely at it, Willow noticed the inflamed skin at the corner of her mouth. It didn’t occur to her that she had injured more than the arm, which showed no signs of improvement. Her mind must be cleansed from any dark thought.

Willow relaxed her muscles and sought Kali, the goddess of Earth, to renew the damaged skin and clear away the impurities. Little spurts of energy tinkled in her hand and slid to Buffy’s. Pleased, Willow began to offer Buffy all she had, her strength and power and magic. All it took to restore the burned skin completely.

“I feel something,” Buffy whispered.

“The healing has finally started,” Willow’s response came out in pants, her strength gradually waning.

“I just wish you could make it faster.”

Willow wished Buffy would stop engaging her in conversation. The meditation was taking its toll on her. She didn’t expect to tire this soon.

“Could you try?”

Feeling like she was floating on a cloud, Willow fixated on Miss Talky-Talky. “This is the fastest I can go. I don’t think I can handle speeding the process because it’ll need…”

“No, that’s fine,” she said urgently, the hopeful spark dying in her eyes.

Willow ignored the fresh sting of hurt, recognizing that she had to remain focused. The healing energy was traveling through her, feeding on the last bit of her strength. With nothing to see but gaudy darkness, her other senses were heightened as she picked up the sound of footsteps approaching them.

“What are you doing here?” Buffy exclaimed in alarm. “Shouldn’t you be guarding Spike?”

“Dawn is with him,” Xander’s calm voice drifted to Willow’s ears.

“You left Dawn alone with Spike! Spike who is a target of the First?”

“Don’t sell the sport short,” Anya responded with perky lightness. “She managed to kick lots of ass down there.”

“No. Xander, go back to the -



With a jolt out of black, Willow blinked and stared with shock up at Xander’s terrified features. Her head was nested on his arm, and she was lying on the floor. What?

Suddenly, a puff of Chanel scattered her face.

She recoiled and jerked her head away.

“Anya! She’s awake! Also, quit it with the scent-y solutions. They hurt Buffy.”

“Will, are you okay?”

The concern that dripped from that question eased the anxiety Willow was feeling, and she found herself absorbed in Buffy’s vacant expression. She remembered what she had told Spike last night about forgiveness, how when coming from others it gave a temporary sense of relief that didn’t last. Right now, she craved Buffy’s forgiveness. Whether it was momentary or not, it was enough to give her the boost to keep going. Knowing that she wasn’t hated made it easier, even if she couldn’t stop hating herself.

“Of course she’s not okay,” Anya said with a blunt response. “She smoldered a few men and set off that psycho trigger The First put in Spike's melon in a blaze of dark rage. Basically, she’s wiped out from doing evil. Again.”

The words stabbed Willow’s heart, but Anya as always told nothing but the truth. Was Willow incapable of resisting the corrupting influence of the power she had fatally courted? She and Giles had long discussions about the shortcomings of power when used for selfish purposes. Giles had told her that he used to exhibit similar behavior in his dark magic days, but that didn’t mean giving up on magic altogether. He learned to use it responsibly and substituted dark magics for the Coven’s clean energy.

God, she needed him! The realization dawned on her with an ache in her heart. His guidance, patience, and understanding. After helping Buffy, she would tell him about her latest relapse and hope he wouldn’t go all ‘Dag-nabbit’ on her. Or the Giles version of that.

“I don’t have much power.” She felt a slight dizziness leaving the security of Xander’s arm and anchored her attention on Anya. “Would you help me?”

Anya frowned, glanced behind her, looked back at Willow, and then pointed at herself. “Me? You’re talking to me?”

“You’re the most powerful person in the room. I need to channel your energy and let it go through me to Buffy.”

The already skeptical eyes expanded in alarm. “You’re gonna suck away my energy? But I need it. It’s what separates me from the pathetic lifeless shells you’ve all become.”

“Ahn. Please,” Xander begged gently, placing his hand on her tightly crossed arms.

Anya lurched away from him and wagged her finger. “How about you give her yours?”

“In a heartbeat. Just doesn’t seem to be enough.” He threw a glance at Willow, who smiled affectionately and shook her head.

Anya scrutinized them like the money she’d receive from a customer in her Magic Box days, but eventually relented with a puff that sent the locks on her forehead flying. “Fine! But don’t take it all. I need something to get me back home.”

“Thank you, Anya,” Buffy said softly.

Their favorite ex-vengeance demon gave a bashful shrug at the sincere expression of gratitude and then started to shuffle her feet. Someone would call it cute. Someone who was not Willow.

Xander did, obviously, judging by the loving smile that graced his lips. He still loved Anya. Having gone up against a best friend slayer to save her life was a major clue. Willow could see reconciliation in their future especially with the way Anya kept showing up in the Summers’ house even though she liked to repeat the tune about not wanting anything to do with them.

Xander helped Willow rise up on her wobbly feet and sat her down on the chair. “I’m gonna go check on Dawn and Spike.” He gave Buffy a reassuring salute and walked out of the room.

Willow rubbed her hands on her thighs, suddenly feeling a hint of nausea escorting the wooziness. “Okay. Let’s get back to work. Anya, your hand.”

Anya searched around for another chair but all she could see was the one Spike had broken earlier.

“You can sit on the bed,” Buffy suggested gently.

Now all seated, Willow locked her fingers on Anya’s hand from one side and Buffy’s from the other. She sealed her eyes closed and willed the process to start. It was going to be slower than the previous attempt, but she wouldn’t share that information with an impatient Buffy. The constant question asking and urging did nothing but distract her. Right now her only challenge was to ignore Anya’s endless shifting.

“Urgh! Would you please take those pictures out?”

Willow sighed and scowled at Anya who was glaring at the photographs decorating Buffy’s nightstand. There were a pair of photos showing Xander and Anya together, one of them had the two embracing each other, all coupley and in love.

Anya made blech noises. “People would think I’m still going out with Mr. Cold Feet. Please burn them.” Her gaze fell on Buffy’s arm. “Sorry. Forgot you won’t be near fire any time soon. Just hand them to me and I will get rid of them in my own way.”

Buffy gave a yeah-sure-whatever nod, her mind patently somewhere else. Willow, on the other hand, couldn’t help feeling the piercing stings of Anya’s unintentional zingers. She slipped her eyes shut again and tried to concentrate. No more unhelpful guilty thoughts.

“I have a couple cute pictures of me for a replacement.”

Willow groaned. “Anya, will you stop?”

“What?” Anya appeared seriously confused. “Not my fault she doesn’t have your picture there.”

Willow bit her lower lip and twirled to Buffy, who had an equally tongue-tied lip nibbling reaction, but seemed to find the flowers on her blanket more appealing to goggle at.

“Made things awkward again?” Anya asked with a nervous laugh. “It’s a gift.”

“We should get back to meditation.” Willow resisted the urge to box Anya’s ear in warning. “And no talking, so we’ll be done faster and then I can book me a plane ticket back to England.”

“You’re leaving?” The shock in Buffy’s words forced a timid smile out of Willow. Like Buffy didn’t see that coming!

“C’mon, Buff, you know it’s the right thing to do.”

“No, I know it’s the wrong thing to do. What gave you that idea?”

Willow gestured at Buffy’s arm.

“What? This? It was an accident.”

A sigh would have slid out if Willow didn’t care about being called a professional sigher. Especially today. “We can’t afford fatal accidents, not when we’re fighting the new big bad. I just… I need more time away from it all to be ready. I’m not yet.”

“Away from it all? Away from your friends?”

“Don’t twist my words, Buffy.”

“Willow, I need you here.” That would have sounded more believable if Buffy didn’t have her about-to-slay-something-nasty face on. “And we can help you get past this.”

“You have so much on your plate now with Spike and…”

“And you! You think I have no space for Willow in my plate?”

Those beige-brown drawings on Buffy’s blanket were surely addictive. If Willow as much as peeped up at Buffy, the tears she was holding back would blast out. “I was sent back to be there for you, Buffy. Not the other way around. If my being here is giving you extra problems to solve then…”

“What are you talking about? I can’t believe we’re having this conversation. Willow, you’re my best friend. This friendship thing is a two-way street. I thought you were the smart one.”

It didn’t feel like they were ‘best friends’ lately, was what she wanted to say. There was a distance between them and lots of secrets and a lack of reaching out for one another. She couldn’t say any of that because that pesky ball molded in her throat again. Speaking would become an issue now–her voice would be all strained and gruffy and she wouldn’t be able to form a complete sentence without choking on her tears.

“If I may weigh in on this overemotional tête-à-tête?” Anya said with a raised hand. Great. More zingers from Anya. Now Willow’s tears would most likely bolt.

“You’re too blinded by warranted guilt to see what’s right in front of you. Everybody’s welcomed you with opened arms since you came back. It doesn’t matter if you go on another murder spree, you’ll always be mollycoddled, and no one will bat an eyelid.”

Just as Willow anticipated. There was no holding the waterworks after that.

“Hey, I was trying to make you feel better.” Anya peered at Willow’s ducked head, clearly confused by the depressing results.

“Thanks, Anya. Maybe I should take it from there,” Buffy interjected.

“No, wait.” Anya seized the shaking hands and squeezed them in a way Willow found comforting. Something she rarely experienced with Anya. “When you went all black-eyed with evil, it was a very dark time in my life. But I knew that I had to help, and I had stressed then that I was only doing it for you. I wanted to help you. Isn’t that right, Buffy?”

Buffy acquiesced with an amused twitch of the mouth. “Without a question.”

Willow wanted to wipe away the tears but didn’t want to lose that soothing tight grip on her hands. “Why?”

“It was vengeance. It was relatable, and I… I understood. You were wronged, and you tried to take revenge.” Anya’s earnest gaze captured her in an unblinking stare. “The point I was trying to make earlier was that your friends… we would still be there for you even if you went psycho and slaughtered a frat house full of misogynic college boys.”

A tearful smile tugged at Willow’s lips. That sounded like an indirect ‘thank you’ for the time Willow had summoned D’Hoffryn trying to save Anya’s life. She doubted Anya would ever thank her out loud. Not after Willow had ruined her Magic Box business. Stuff like that was hard to get over.

“Will, I’m sorry if I came off a bit…” Buffy let the sentence hang, giving an uneasy twist of the lips.

“Crabby?” Anya suggested helpfully.

Knitting her brows in displeasure, Buffy ignored the comment and resumed, “I was upset about the attack and the new threat. I guess I hated the fact that I couldn’t bring you back. I’m glad Spike was able to reach out to you in time.”

Willow could still feel Spike’s strong grip on her shoulders, see the fury sweltering in his eyes, and hear the anguish in his words. She wanted to tell Buffy that what brought her back wasn’t Spike, but what he said about Buffy. Harming Buffy was what snapped her out of the dark daze.

The words didn’t get past her mouth by the time Buffy carried on, “Anya is right. No matter what happens, we will always be there for you.” There was a pause, then a blushing shrug as she added, “Even if you had us all chained up in the basement and unleashed an angry demon with an unpronounceable name on us.”

“My God, Buffy, don’t give her ideas like that,” Anya rebuked and turned her attention to the girl whose hands she was clasping in a death grip. “Keep your evil restricted to the strangers and far away from us. Understood?”

Engrossed in Buffy’s playful chuckle, Willow felt a giggle bubble up inside her.

“Don’t worry, Anya,” Buffy said with a wink at Willow. “When something like that happens, I’ll concoct the antidote to bring her back to sanityville.”

The second giggle died in Willow’s throat. She appreciated the way Buffy and Anya were listing their times of evil, but that didn’t cancel the fact that Willow was, as much as Spike was with his trigger, a ticking time bomb at present.

“Willow, look at me.” Buffy regarded her with serious determination. “We’re gonna get through this. Like we always do.”

No one knew how petrified Willow was about slipping into the darkness. Not even Buffy. The fact that it had happened so effortlessly and without her awareness engulfed her conscience and overwhelmed her body. Nothing calmed her fretting nerves other than the idea of escaping Sunnydale to the solitude of England, where she’d be sure she wouldn’t hurt anyone.

“I can’t save the world without you, Will. I need my best friend by my side ‘til the bitter end.”

The desperation in Buffy’s voice and body language were as overwhelming. It wasn’t just Willow who was scared. Buffy was as well. Anya, too. Xander, Dawn and Spike. They were all scared.

Spike’s earlier plea for Buffy to kill him in the basement echoed Willow’s desire to run away. They both knew that they weren’t strong enough to stop themselves from hurting others and were indirectly abandoning Buffy to bear the responsibly of saving the world on her lonely shoulders.

Willow looked at Buffy like she was seeing her for the first time. The fear must have been traveling through her veins, but never made it to her facial muscles; she was trying to be strong for all of them. She couldn’t do that to Buffy. Willow was her ‘big gun’, and she would figure out a way to stay in control. Getting a jelly belly on her best friend was the last thing Buffy needed.

“You can count on it,” she replied with newfound strength in her voice. She removed one of her hands from Anya’s firm grip and took hold of Buffy’s hand. First thing on her ‘Help Buffy’ agenda was to get the healing meditation done and over with.

Before her eyelids drooped on her cheeks, Willow caught the way Buffy’s lips stretched into an unrestrained genuine smile. There was a warm glow that touched her starving soul and filled her with happiness. More so than the perfectly flawless skin at the corner of Buffy’s mouth.
05 September 2018 @ 04:26 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 10

The penetrating ache in the back of his head was the first thing Xander felt as he regained consciousness. Vague shapes began to sharpen as his vision cleared, and the first thing he recognized was the charred basement wall, yellowed by years of no scrubbing or repainting. He hissed, cupping his throbbing head in reflex. His memory was jumbled by flashing images; hooded men with wooden staffs, a chained Spike snapping at him, and a black-eyed Willow playing the Wicked Witch of the West on the eyeless scarecrows.

“Spike?” he grunted out. Nothing. He was met with silence. Nobody was in the basement, and the chains dangled from the wall separated from their cuffs.

The uproar emanating from upstairs prompted him to struggle to his feet, shuddering at the stiffness in his back. His previous attempt to calm down Willow had been met with a bolt of magic that had him soaring back and whacked him against the wall. Rehashing the yellow crayon story was not going to work this time. There had to be a way to bring Willow back and fast. He climbed up the stairs one step at a time, using the banister for support. Pain flared in his head, forcing him to his knees on the staircase, and he rubbed his fingers against his forehead.

Louder thuds emerged, but what got him up and running was the sound of Willow crying and begging Buffy for forgiveness.

He quickened his pace as fast as possible, the pain in his head and back be damned. Plodding into the kitchen, he tripped over an abandoned staff on the floor. Face flat on the plane surface, another sound reached his ears, one that chilled him to the bone.

It was Willow again, but this time she was singing. He wasn’t familiar with the tune, but he recognized the lyrics.

Shit! What the hell was she doing? He cursed aloud when he heard Spike’s earsplitting growl.

Squinting through the drumming in his temples, he seized the staff on the floor and scurried in the direction of the kicking and punching. The noise grew closer as he neared the dining room. He peered at the door, noticing the lifeless body of one hooded man right by the entrance, and Spike menacingly advancing towards Willow and Buffy.

With a deep shiver, Xander crept behind Spike, positioning the staff to clock the latter out. Closer and closer, he was almost there, desperately trying not to give in to temptation and glance at his friends, instead focusing on the yellow-gelled head.

Spike whirled without warning and snarled with his fangs protruding out. Heart shrinking with fear, Xander couldn’t move his paralyzed hands, swearing when Spike grabbed his weapon and spun them both around until his already sore back hit the wall. He couldn’t get himself to breathe as the freaking wind was knocked right out of him.

The task of slowly and deeply inhaling and exhaling went down the drain with the way Creeptastic Spike was approaching him like a slithering snake. The pain in his back was literally crippling and he couldn’t move an inch.

Thankfully, he wasn’t short on the luck cards that had kept him alive all these years. Spike went down with a smack from a broken plate by a very worn-out Buffy. Xander’s very bone marrow stiffened to ice at the sight before him. The skin in Buffy’s left arm was scalded, her clothes were torn, and some of her hair was burned. Just then he realized what that horrible smell was, and a wave of nausea struck him hard. He tried shallow breathing to fight the foul-tasting bile rising in his throat.

Spike’s petrifying growl pushed that queasy feeling back into his stomach. Usually, one Buffy smack would send someone right into a coma, but in her worse for wear state that must have felt like a tickle. She attempted a weak kick that did nothing but aggravate Spike more. He returned it with a kick that had her flying to the other side of the room.

Xander’s pathetic attempt to stand up and help Buffy attracted Spike’s attention. He was about to pounce at Xander, when something made him trip. Wait, no. Someone. A now awake Anya gripped Spike’s foot with all her might, giving the now standing Willow the opportunity to rush in and stomp his head with her foot.

Willow’s physical strength, however, was not as impressive as her witchy powers. Spike flicked her away, which seemed to motivate Anya to exercise her most powerful weapon: her teeth. She clung to Spike with her teeth digging into his upper arm and bit down further as Spike snarled at her and tried to brush her off.

That’s my girl, Xander thought with so much pride. Anya’s courageous act was contagious; he found himself crawling towards the fight regardless of the stinging pain in his back.

Everyone joined Anya, with Buffy smashing an elbow into the side of Spike’s skull followed by Willow breaking a colored vase on top of his head. Now if that didn’t knock the son of a bitch down, nothing would. But to be on the safe side, Xander slugged him in the face.

At last, Spike dropped to the floor and remained there like the lifeless corpse he was. Game over.

A moment of relieved silence draped the room like a warm blanket. Xander tried to catch his breath, his raging heartrate settling down. “What… the hell?”

Anya moved a mop of messy hair off her face. “I was knocked out cold since the beginning. You fill me in.” Her face clouded with worry as she examined the unsettling condition of each one of them. “I woke up to Spike going serial killer on a very disheveled Buffy… my God, what happened to you?”

Buffy pulled over a chair with her good hand and slid on it without a word. Xander could see fluid oozing from the burn in her arm. “Buffy, we should take you to the hospital!”

She shook her head. “Too dangerous to leave the house now. They might come back.”

“Would someone please fill me in on what happened?” Anya asked, her rising anxiety and annoyance clear in her tone.

Willow hung next to Buffy with red eyes and upturned lips. Just looking at her broke Xander’s heart beyond repair. The whole dark episode with Will in the basement was overwhelmingly terrifying. He was scared. The ‘I-saw-my-best-friend-going-off-the-rails-and-couldn’t-save-her’ scared. How she came back from the dark side was a mystery he was not interested in unfolding right now, not when Willow looked like she was about to burst from guilt over hurting Buffy.

Changing the subject to the less petrifying scary, he answered Anya with, “We were attacked,” nodding his head at one of the murdered men. “What’s the deal with eyeless Reverend Henry Kane there?”

“Harbingers.” Buffy’s hollow stare glanced away from her skinless blood-red arm and landed on him. “They’re minions of The First Evil.”

“Are you sure?” Anya asked, stepping on Dawn’s leg by mistake.

“I fought them before. We’re up against The First.”

Had they gone up against a villain with that name? Maybe the waves of shocking pain in his temples were clouding his memory, but a villain named ‘The First’ didn’t ring a bell. “When did you fight them exactly?” He staggered up on his feet, and a sharp pain soared in his back.

“Christmas of our senior year,” Willow provided, still hovering over Buffy like a mother hen. “Buffy, are you okay? Do you need an ice pack?”

“Dawn is still out cold.” Buffy’s voice was just like her gaze, dull and empty.

“Not to worry. That’s what perfume is for.” Anya headed outside, skipping over the dead body in the doorway.

“Buffy, I could help you grow new skin.” Willow’s face lit up as she walked to stand right in front of Buffy, who still stared at her unconscious sister.

Xander grimaced at that suggestion. “Will, maybe you shouldn’t…”

“I’ll just draw power from the earth to heal her. It’s harmless, really.”

Xander knew he didn’t look convinced. Willow was too desperate to fix Buffy, an act he was too familiar with, to think clearly. How could she even propose using magic after the damage she had inflected on Buffy?

Doubt must have radiated from him like the heat off a radiator because she turned to an equally not convinced Buffy. “You remember? The whole meditating thing after I came back?”

Something seemed to have snapped in Buffy’s head, and emotions returned to her dead gaze. “We can do that?”

Willow nodded so fast Xander almost heard her neck pop. “Darn tooting! Let’s just get you all comfortable on the couch.”

“I found Andrew passed out in Dawn’s bed,” Anya’s voice drifted inside before she did. She jumped the body on her way into the room again and crouched next to Dawn.

“Yeah, one of them went upstairs and I followed him.” Buffy winced, standing up with her good hand resting on the table for support.

Anya sprayed the perfume on Dawn’s face, giving the room a welcomed sweet odor, which caused Buffy to hiss in pain. Xander wanted to pummel himself when he realized the aroma was stinging her arm.

“You should probably go to the living room now, Buffy,” he said gently, moving to guide her there. The trail of burned skin in the side of her face and neck twisting his heart.

“Spike,” she said, throwing a concerned glance the vampire’s way. “We shouldn’t leave him alone. The First is targeting him.”

“I’ll stay with him,” Xander reassured her. “You just focus on getting better.”

Small whimpers ejected from Dawn’s mouth. Her eyes slipped open and she looked between them in confusion.

Anya grinned down at the groggy face. “Andrew is passed out in your room and he soiled your bed.”

Dawn screwed up her face. “Ew.”

“Here’s what we’re gonna do.” Buffy straightened her back, eyeing them with resolve. “Willow and I will work on my arm. Anya and Dawn will get rid of the bodies. Xander will chain Spike in the basement and stay there. Don’t let him get out of your sight.” Xander nodded at her fierce stare. “The First will think twice before it strikes again.”

The moment of doom ended when Dawn asked hoarsely, “The first of what? And what the hell happened to your arm?!”
04 September 2018 @ 02:07 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 9

Willow was scanning the google page on the laptop for a helpful link about triggers when the lights went out. The sound of windows being smashed in the dining room where Dawn and Anya were had her jumping to her feet. Her heart skipped a beat at the horrified screams, and as she crossed the foyer, the front door was kicked in off its hinges. She stared, wide eyed, at the people who barged in, covered head to toe in long, black hooded robes, holding wooden staffs and swarming around her.

She dodged when one of them swung at her, and from her place on the ground, yelled out, “Propel!”

The men surrounding her were blasted across the room in an instant. She ran into the kitchen where another one rushed out from the basement and grabbed her by the shoulders. Face to face with him, Willow gasped when she saw flesh in place of his eyes and pushed him off of her. She spied Buffy storming out of the basement’s door and punching one of the robed men that was about to hit Willow from behind.

More of them bolted into the kitchen and Buffy immediately sprung to fighting mode, but it was an unfair battle with the priest look-alikes outnumbering the one slayer. One of them was about to whack Buffy from the back when Willow shouted a shielding spell. It created an invisible wall behind her friend just seconds before the priest struck. His wooden staff broke in half, and then the eyeless man turned his attention to her.

Darting into the basement, she turned around and yelled another shielding spell. An invisible wall formed in the doorway space, blocking his way.

She was hit by a sudden headrush that rendered her dizzy. Her blood sprinted to her head and her vision dimmed. Dark energy bounded and suffocated her, leaving her panting for breath. Too many spells in less than a couple of minutes; if she was not careful, she might end up spiraling out of control. She clutched the banister for balance and took a few steps down the stairs, only to witness one of the intruders about to bang Xander’s head with a staff.

Gaze focused on Xander’s helpless body on the floor, and she felt veins bulging in her face. Darkness descending and washing down her body, she raised a hand and shot a lightening spell at the man about to harm Xander; he combusted to flames.

Heartrate increasing and lungs inflating, Willow stared as the burning man disappeared out of sight with heavy eyes. Her field of view reduced as her vision got distorted and blurred out on the sides. Distant voices were talking at once. She knew she was in too deep after a total of four spells in a row. She was not ready to come back, but Giles never listened to her worries. There was no worse time to lose control, not while they were in the middle of an attack.

An indistinct conversation with unfinished sentences drifted to her ears.

“How did Buffy stop her last time she….”

“… was me. I reminded her of a childhood …”

“… not the time for jokes, wanker!”

She clutched the banister and tried to will herself to remain in control. The power she buried underneath was bursting out, demanding to be used. She couldn’t risk being consumed by the dark powers and hurting those she loved.

Loud curses erupted from the bottom of the basement. More priests slid down and swung wooden staffs at her friends. Great power tinkled in her hands, and it was so easy to blast one fireball after the another. The men scorched and disappeared one by one, and she watched them with satisfaction. Giles was apparently right. She was needed, and she’d make sure she earned her return.

A hand touched her shoulder out of nowhere and – “Propel!” – whoever it was went flying down the stairs and smacked against the wall.

Footsteps rushed down the basement. The invisible wall must have diminished, and more balls of lightening soared their way. A smile crept to her mouth at the sight of the flames.

More of the basement windows crashed, and men were tumbling inside like rain drops. Others were pouring in from the door at the top of the stairs. It felt like some sort of race where the finishing line was down in the basement. More work for Willow.

The house would have burned down had she not sent each sweltering body to an alternate dimension. Dawn’s screams from earlier darted into her head, reminding her that the others must be in the fight of their lives elsewhere. She let go of the banister and straightened her back, feet no longer touching the ground. She floated up into the kitchen and searched for the enemy, but they weren’t in sight.

The banging and crashing racket in the dining room caught her ear. Buffy was barely handling herself against a couple of priests. Willow could end it right now. Two fireballs and problem solved.

One more priest bolted inside through the door, and Willow was about to smolder him when strong hands grabbed her shoulders and shook her.

“Willow, stop!”

She was going to blast the interrupter away just as her unfocused gaze settled on a couple of angry blue eyes.

“Stop it! You got Buffy!”

The sickening stench of charred skin and hair seemed suddenly enhanced in the air. The dark energy that fueled Willow began to seep out of her bones and body. The fog blinding her vision cleared away, and it was Spike standing in front of her, out of his chains, scratched and battered.

He was snatched out of her sight by the priest she was going to burn earlier, and with the loss of his grip, her legs gave out and she sank to the floor. Completely drained and vulnerable, she searched around her and spotted Dawn and Anya lying on the floor, unconscious. On the opposite side from them was Buffy. Her back was elevated against the wall, pieces of her clothes melted into her flesh, and her left arm was severely burned with her skin peeled back and hanging.

Hit by a hollow feeling in her chest and growing heat in her eyes, Willow hysterically began to crawl her way to Buffy. The sight alone was eating her alive. What had she done? What had she done?

“Oh God, Buffy! Buffy, forgive me. I lost myself. I thought… oh, God!” Tears stormed out and soaked her face. She was able to reach Buffy’s good hand, lodged on the floor to keep her body steadied against the wall. Vision blurred again with sorrowful shame, she caught Buffy’s bushed gaze that looked past her.


“What?” She had heard it clearly, but she didn’t understand what was expected of her.

“Spike,” Buffy repeated with as much strength as she could muster.

Willow absorbed the desperate look, the wheels turning in her head. She directed her attention to the still-going-on battle between Spike and now two priests. One of them must have arrived while she was occupied with Buffy.

Why were they here? Why were both of them fighting Spike? What did they want? She had noticed the way they were all racing towards the basement earlier… where Spike used to be.

They were after Spike all along. The gang was just standing in their way.

Spike got a kick to the stomach. He dropped to his knees and received a punch to the face. Soon, he would lose conscious and they’d take him away, and no one in the room was strong enough to stop them.

Except for one.

Knowing there was no time to waste evaluating her next move, Willow started to sing at the top of her lungs, “Oh, don't deceive me, oh, never leave me, how could you use a poor maiden so…”

She felt Buffy’s hand tugging at her sleeve and Willow could tell right away that she was trying to stop her. There was no other choice. Spike had to fight for his freedom. So, she repeated the only verse she memorized and sang louder than before.

An appalling growl exploded from the vampire on the floor, and he burst up with animal fury. He sprang at one of the priests and kicked him hard in the face and then ripped out the other’s throat. Both fell motionless to the floor.

Gleaming eyes settled on Willow, who already expected the fatal consequences of her hasty plan. With one more snarl, Spike lunged.

Part 10 will be posted tomorrow.
01 September 2018 @ 10:42 am
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 8

It happened right after Willow finished reading aloud about the song she heard in Buffy’s room. An English folk tune that dated back to the eighteenth century. Xander and Dawn were standing behind Willow as she recited the lyrics from her laptop screen while Anya played chef with the sandwiches in the kitchen.

A penetrating roar blew up from the basement and startled everyone. Sharing a frightened look with Willow, Xander remembered leaving a chained-up Spike in the basement with Buffy. The vampire looked like a Halloween advertisement icy statue, and Xander should have predicted that once the ice thawed, Spike would still be in attack mode.

“Scoobies assemble! Spike’s mobile again,” he cried out, snatching the stake on the table and running to the basement.

The ice around Spike defrosted completely. He was growling and snarling, eyes shining gold and fangs extruded. His head manically rocked from left to right as he couldn’t move, both chains and Buffy holding him in place. Xander saw the way her fingers dug into Spike’s arms, struggling to keep them in check. She smacked him back against the wall and pressed her forehead against his hard to stop it from moving. She stared him down, gaze unwavering, for more than a few seconds. Xander’s breath caught in his throat, watching the way the hideous vampire guise melted into human features and a couple of alarmed human eyes.

“What did I do?” was the first question that came out of Spike’s mouth, littered with fear and distress.

“Nothing,” Buffy said pointedly. “You did nothing thanks to Willow.”

The witch in question trudged down the stairs and placed a hand on the tight grip that pushed Spike against the wall. Buffy relaxed her fists and let go of him.

“I found the song online. ‘Early One Morning’. Does it ring a bell?” Willow directed her question to Spike, quiet and gentle.

Mixed emotions were at play in Spike’s gaze before his features sharpened and the muscles in his neck and face tightened. “Yes.”

Buffy and Willow shared a look, and then Willow offered the distressed vampire a sad smile. “The song must mean something to you.”

“Obviously,” Xander interjected, making his way down the stairs along with Dawn and Anya. “Since the big bad is using it as a trigger.”

“Using it as what now?” Buffy asked.

“A trigger. The evil beneath us figured out a way to make Spike its sleeper agent by controlling him through the song.” Oldest trick in the book. More accurately oldest trick that happened in every army movie he’d seen.

“How can we make it un-control him?” Dawn asked, seeming a little on edge. He didn’t blame her. If Willow hadn’t frozen Spike, who knew what damage he could have done in his triggered state.

“I don’t know,” he provided unhelpfully. Most of those army movies had unfortunate endings to the operative who would complete his task. Something he shouldn’t share with the others, especially with Spike around.

Buffy hung her head back, slipped her eyelids shut, and inhaled. It was no surprise to the rest of them how exhausted their fearless leader was. Xander was pretty sure she hadn’t slept last night. The Spike crisis was taking a toll on her, not to mention the threat of the new big bad looming over them.

“Kill me.”

Everyone turned their heads to the source of the softly spoken whisper. Spike’s eyes pleaded to Buffy. “You have to kill me. You know what I’m capable of.”

The room thickened with silence and the desperate plea hung in the air. Xander felt his stomach muscles clench, surprised by the effect the request had on him. The others seemed troubled by it as well: Willow’s mouth hung open slightly, her worried gaze darting between Spike and Buffy; Dawn’s frail cool guise failed to hide her dismay; and Anya nibbled on her lips.

“I’m not gonna kill you, Spike,” Buffy responded with a strong voice. “That’s not how I operate.”

“I beg to differ.” Everyone gaped at Anya, who reddened to the tips of her ears and then let out an embarrassed chortle. “But what do I know? I just make sandwiches.”

Dawn nodded. “Anya’s right. We must fuel if we wanna get to the bottom of this.”

“Actually, those sandwiches are for me, but please, help yourselves to my food.” Anya’s wide grin was anything but sincere.

Willow gave a teasing smile. “I thought some of them were for Andrew.”

“I made the boy cry. It was the least I could do.” She glared at their skeptical expressions. “I’m not a monster.”

Buffy tucked a few loose strands of hair behind her ears. “You guys go ahead. I’ll stay here.”

Dawn planted her hands on her hips and glowered at her yawning sister. “When I said we needed to fuel, I was specifically talking about you.”

Xander patted Buffy’s shoulder. “I’ll vampsit. Go with them and get something to eat.”

“I don’t…”

“If you don’t march up there, young lady,” Dawn said dangerously, “I’m gonna give you a good kicking in the shins. And believe me, I can.” Xander flinched back at the hard tone. The Dawnster would make a scary mother one day.

“I believe you. I taught you how.”

“Then you know how excruciating it would be.”

Rolling her eyes, Buffy scowled. “One sandwich.” She cast a fleeting stare at Spike’s slumped shoulders and bent head. The latter didn’t catch the worry in her face, but Xander did. It was undeniable how much she cared about him, even if she wouldn’t admit it.

Xander watched his friends climb up the stairs with Anya shuffling behind in a huff. “You know, you guys could make your own food.”

A smile played on his lips at her grumpy comment and as he turned his head, he noticed Spike’s piecing stare on his stake. The stake he brought with him from the living room. The stake he was still clutching firmly in his hand.

“I’m not gonna kill you,” he reassured meekly. “This is just for… precaution.”

He swallowed under the calm, unswerving gaze that regarded him with censure. “Why won’t you kill me?”

“Buffy won’t allow it.”

Spike seemed to stifle a chuckle, probably at how confident Xander sounded. “Is that right?”

“Why else do you think you’re chained down here? Believe me, if Buffy wanted you dead, your ashes would be in the garbage by now.”

Spike’s brow creased as he tilted his head. “And you?”

The challenging stare was daring him to admit something he wasn’t sure about. Not anymore. He looked away and heaved a sigh, testing the stability of a wooden chair near the sink. It was firm enough for him to sit on. He perched himself on it and studied the sharp tip of his stake, unable to look anywhere else.

“You would kill me. You almost did last year.”

That old burn of jealousy, vicious in its intensity. Last year, it had twisted his insides and had him stride into the dark night with a lethal axe. It had risen like a bile in his throat, ripping into him with pointed edges and blinding him to the degree of lashing out. It wasn’t the first time he fell a victim to that plague. Not the first time it turned him into an asshole. But that night was the first time it drove him to kill. The terrifying thought crept into the back of his mind and sent shivers down his spine. He had gone ahead and tried to kill Spike. He almost drove a stake into his heart.

“Last year was different.” His voice came out as gruff as he felt. He’d made huge strides after he left his parents’ basement, and then he ripped Buffy out of heaven and sank deep into the mud; one lousy decision after the other.

“How so?”

“I’m not the same guy I was then. You’re not the only one who changed, Spike.” The confrontation with Buffy over killing Anya had opened his eyes to old arguments, old betrayals. What he couldn’t understand back then he understood so well now. “And no.”

Spike scrunched up his forehead.

“I won’t kill you.”

Metal scraped against metal as Spike got up to his feet, standing tall and looking intimidating even with the shackles binding his wrists and ankles to the wall. “You should. I’m dangerous.”

“I know.” Xander couldn’t look away from that entrancing defiant stare. “If that trigger gets activated now… those shackles won’t stand in your way, you’ll rip me to pieces, and I won’t be fast enough to stop you.”


“But I won’t kill you. Because Buffy won’t have it. And I trust Buffy.”

“Good to know.” She was at the top of the stairs, arms folded around her chest, and eyes glistening with gratitude.

“Have you eaten something?” He never was a person who liked being stuck in an emotional moment, and since his throbbing head couldn’t come up with a single joke, changing the topic was his only option.

She shrugged. “More like had a spoon shoved into my mouth.”

The light flickered, and a panicked Spike jerked back in response, rattling his shackles. He reacted just like Xander did whenever his drunken father pounded angrily on his door.

Right after he’d finished that thought, the light went out. There was no time to react when someone came crashing down through the window. He was wearing a cloak with a hoodie, his face shadowed by the dark as he tackled Xander to the floor. Xander tried to kick him away when he finally caught a glimpse of his face and that sight made him freeze with dread. The man had runic symbols branded in the flesh where his eyes should have been yet didn’t seem to be blind, like a real-life Davros. The man lifted a staff and started swinging down. Xander immediately shut his eyes, waiting for the pain.

There was none, for one of Buffy’s famous and cherished kicks arrived to save his terrified ass. She grabbed Davros by the shoulders and flipped him to the stairs. He didn’t stay there for long, springing back to his feet and racing up to the first floor, where sounds of crashing and screaming reached their ears.

“Stay with Spike,” Buffy ordered and ran after Mr. No Eyes.

Xander fetched his stake and moved to stand next to Spike, who tried to break himself out of the chains. “We should go up there,” Spike grunted out, pulling hard on his bounds.

“What if you get triggered again?”

There was no time to consider that possibility as another eyeless hooded priest glided into the basement from the broken window. Protective instinct kicking in, Xander pushed Spike behind him and flung his stake at the intruder. It hit him right between his runes, slowing him down enough for Xander to rush and grab the abandoned staff on the floor.

The priest was advancing towards Spike, paying Xander no attention, which gave the latter the advantage he needed to swipe the staff against the hooded head and knock him to the ground. Xander wasted no second pummeling the man repeatedly with the staff with all his strength.

He didn’t see the hand that reached and pulled on his ankle; he lost his balance and fell down, head hitting the hard floor. A shattering pain exploded in the back of his head and blackness almost engulfed him. Through his foggy vision, he could see the man seizing the staff and rising to his feet. He held it up over his head and was about to smash Xander’s aching skull to pieces. In the background, he heard Spike calling out his name and the violent clattering of the chains.

The man didn’t swing. He burst into flames instead.

Xander fought against the pain to crawl back away from the flames. The man before him burned into oblivion. He blinked, trying to comprehend what just happened through the pounding headache and noticed the look of horror on Spike’s gaze. He followed his line of sight to the basement’s stairs, and his heart dropped in alarm.

At the top of the stairs stood a blank-faced Willow, her eyes coal black.

Part 9
31 August 2018 @ 03:16 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 7

Willow winced as she stood in the hallway with Xander, trying to block Anya barking at Andrew so that she could hear the latest on Spike. “So, you’re completely sure he’s being controlled by something?”

“Dead sure,” Xander replied. “Still nothing on what or who is causing this. I was kicked out when the conversation steered towards the soul route.”

That subject was a sensitive area. Spike had gone against his nature to retrieve his human soul, but she wasn’t sure if that was done to impress Buffy or to atone for whatever he’d done to her. When Giles had taken her with him to England, Willow was certain she’d be punished or killed. None of that happened. She was enrolled into a Hogwarts coven and taught all the basics of magic, but her stay was cut short due to the new evil rising in Sunnydale. Buffy needed her assistance and here she was, trying to assist Buffy in the best way she could manage.

Though, if she really thought about it, she could have done more. There must be a spell that could clear the whole thing up. A truth spell. A spell like that would be helpful in the best way.

Except… the thought of doing serious spells filled her body with dread. She hadn’t finished her much-needed time at the coven. She was not ready.

“Please, take her away from me!” Andrew’s desperate wails came crashing from inside Dawn’s room.

Xander nibbled on his lips. “I should probably get in there.”

“And I should go and help Buffy.” Off his look, she carried on, “Spike and I have a lot in common. We both did evil and then tried to fix our wrongdoings. He went and got himself a soul, and I went to a… witch school,” the last word came out in a weak whisper. “Not that impressive, huh? I didn’t even finish the term.”

Xander placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “As a guy who despises school, your thing sounds like torture.”

“Not to a girl who loves school.”

“This isn’t a contest, Will. You’re doing good now. You are a good person. You wanna help. That’s what matters.” He flinched at the sharp sound of Anya slapping Andrew’s face which resulted to gaudy pathetic scream. “Besides, all Spike did was get a soul. It doesn’t mean he had to suffer for it.”

Willow lifted her eyebrows. “He was found insane in the high school basement. Having a soul alone is traumatizing enough after years of doing evil.”

“You’re telling me your conscience isn’t eating you alive for what you did? Willow, I know you. You haven’t been yourself ever since you came back.”

She lowered her gaze, the racket in Dawn’s room numbed by the clatter of old memories. The food she couldn’t eat, the horse she hadn’t pet and the books she wouldn’t touch. The suspicious eyes, the well-rehearsed conversations, everyone being cautious around her. Giles told her that she was still Willow, but nobody used to be afraid of Willow, especially Willow herself.

“It still haunts you, what you did to that creep,” Xander carried on gently. His hand squeezed her shoulder. “You constantly have nightmares about it.”

She frowned. “How did you know?”

“My enhanced vision. It’s my superpower.”

Single eyebrow arched.

“Fine. Dawn told me.” He rolled his eyes when she gave an ‘I knew it’ fist bump. “Do not compare yourself to Spike. This comparison thing leads to nothing good. My mother used to do that all the time, and my grades never surpassed D plus.”

A genuine smile pulled at her lips. “Well, your mom was being unreasonable.”

“See? Who in their right mind would compare their kid to the genius Willow Rosenberg? Smartest of us all.”

That would have earned him a delighted chuckle if it wasn’t for the crash in Dawn’s room and the two sets of different cries, one for justice and the other for help.

Xander patted her arms and then rushed into the room. She could hear a gasp immediately followed by a shocked ‘Anya!’ and then Andrew started wailing in happy relief.

Squaring her shoulders, Willow let out a much-needed breath before knocking on Buffy’s door. A few seconds passed by and no answer; Willow was about to knock again when the door clicked open.

“Hey,” she piped up when Buffy peered outside with crinkled eyebrows. Oops, she must have barged in on an interesting conversation. “Just came by to ask if you needed any help.”

“Thanks, but I think…”

“Buffy,” Willow interrupted when the sound of Spike singing drifted to her ears. They both paused and listened before dashing inside. Nobody was in the room but Spike.

“Who were you talking to?” Buffy demanded.

“What’s that?” Something was off about Spike. Willow was mesmerized by the nonchalant air in his behavior, nothing like the broken vampire she had talked to last night. She studied the way his lips moved, the way his eyes reflected casual derision. What was the song he was just singing seconds ago? ‘Oh, don't deceive me, oh never leave me, how could you use a poor maiden so.’ That sounded like an old folk rhyme. Probably something Spike knew way back in his human days.

“I’m fine, Buffy, I’m just feeling… a bit peckish.” Willow blinked out of her thoughts. She watched Spike glance at the bags of blood on the nightstand.

“Would you please, Will?” Buffy asked, her eyes never leaving Spike.

“Sure.” On guard, Willow warily crossed over towards the blood bags. Her gaze flickered over the pictures on Buffy’s nightstand. Still no picture of Willow there, making her heart twist a little. Why should there be though? Buffy wouldn’t want to wake up and have Willow’s face be the first thing she saw in the morning.

She bit on her lower lip and picked up the half full blood bag inside the metal bowl. Turning around, she stopped in her tracks as she heard it again. The faint tune of that folk song. Her gaze darted to Spike’s lips. They weren’t moving, even though it was his voice singing it.

“Can you hear it, Buffy?” she exclaimed.

“What?” Buffy looked at her, and just at that moment where her eyes left Spike, his face morphed, and he growled. Shattering the chair he was tied in to splinters, he knocked Buffy across the room.

The blood bag in her hand hit the floor, and Willow put her hand up for a spell as Spike lunged at her. “Freeze!”

Blue ice frosted all over Spike in an instant and left him a solid ice sculpture. Terrified, Willow fought back against the sudden darkness that was enveloping her. She swayed, blinded by dark energy, and just as she was about to slip to the floor she was caught by strong arms.

She looked into Buffy’s worried eyes and tried her best to shake away the darkness. “You and Xander…” she said in a breathy voice, “take him down to the basement. We should chain him until we know what’s wrong with him. I’m gonna google the song before I forget the words.”

“The song?”

“You didn’t hear it?”

Buffy paused to think and then she nodded. “Yes, yes, I did. Spike… he mentioned hearing a song in the cellar. Could be the same song.”

Willow steadied herself and stood on her own. She glanced between a frozen Spike and Buffy. “Let’s get moving then.”

Part 8
30 August 2018 @ 03:31 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 6

Xander watched Buffy holding pig’s blood up to Spike’s mouth. Head tilted back, Spike was biting straight through the bag. The ravenous suckling almost made Xander lose his lunch on his recently bought new-promotion shoes.

The angry bellows that came pouring through the walls were a much-welcomed distraction. Buffy cast a concerned glance at the door and then at him, and he reassured her with a smile. He knew how much Anya loved playing bad cop.

Turned out that the younger Wells brother, Andrew, was back in town and suspiciously buying tons and tons of blood. Anya and Dawn had charged into the house dragging the little weasel by the scruff of his neck just as Xander was done fixing the living room window. They had eventually decided to divide themselves into two teams. Team Willow and Anya were to interrogate Andrew in Dawn’s room while Team Buffy and Xander were on Spike duty. Dawn was to do her homework downstairs in the living room. She did not take that verdict well.

He fidgeted on Buffy’s bed as whirling thoughts raced in his head. Soon Spike would be fed, and then Xander would have to solve this Dark City mystery. If he was honest with himself, he just wanted the whole thing to be done and over with. The vampire wasn’t exactly someone he cared about, and he wasn’t sure if clearing his name was that significant to Buffy, judging by her blank face.

Still, he did promise to be Objective Guy, and having lived with the guy again for the past two weeks, he must admit that Spike had changed. There wasn’t any of the usual baiting and belittling Xander was used to receiving from him. No stealing of his money and no adding blood to his cereal. There was nothing but silence. Mr. Soul-Having had not talked to him at all during his stay. He either went out or locked himself in his room. That kind of bothered Xander more than the baiting. Being overlooked and perceived as nothing important.

That was how Spike obviously saw him: not important. So why would Xander believe that he’d make a difference talking to him? Buffy couldn’t get much out of him, and neither could Willow, but somehow Xander could drag out all the answers?

He raked his hand through his hair when Buffy tossed the empty bag into the trashcan and then moved to sit next to him. Now was his turn, and he still didn’t know where to start.

Spike appeared calm now, not so much with the withdrawals. He was resting his head back against the chair, and his muscles flexed for a bit. Xander hoped he wasn’t trying to create some leeway in the ropes. Caught in the small motions Spike was making, Xander almost missed the icy stare that was fixed on him.

“My, to what do I owe this unpleasant visit?” Teeth drawn tight together, Spike turned his irritated gaze to Buffy. “What kind of interrogation technique are you running, Slayer? Should I answer questions from Dawn next?”

“Feeling better?” she asked quietly.

He seemed taken aback by her question, the rigid lines on his forehead smoothing considerably. Xander could feel the tension thickening and sweat began to form in his forehead. He did not sign up for this to catch the longwinded Buffy ‘n Spike uncomfortable staring contest.

“So, Spike, Willow tells me you’ve gone total John Murdoch on the recent murders. Care to elaborate?”

Spike’s eyelid ticked. “I’d rather talk to Buffy.”

“Not your choice,” Xander responded. “It’s either me or Sir Galahad.” Right then, Anya’s loud menacing threats rained into the room with vengeance. Xander lifted his eyebrows and pointed in the direction of the bawling. Spike stared at him, not amused.

A hand rested on his thigh. “Maybe I should…”

Xander sighed and cupped Buffy’s hand with his own. “I’ve got it.”

“You sure?” She didn’t look convinced.

“I’m all Calm-Xander now. I promise.” He willed himself to relax, taking a deep breath and bringing his temper under control. Getting rattled would complicate things more and he wouldn’t get any answers.

The yelling outside grew louder, and Buffy’s hand tensed under his. “I should check on them,” she muttered, but didn’t make an attempt to move.

He could see the apprehension in her features. “I’m all right, Buff. Don’t worry.”

She nodded and rose to her feet, throwing a fleeting look at Spike before heading out of the room.

After the door ticked shut, Xander asked Spike without a minute’s pause, “So, you don’t remember killing those people. What do you exactly remember?”

Spike looked right past him, at the door where Buffy left. He then returned his gaze to the floor and said nothing at all.

Xander gritted his teeth. “Spike, we need to know if this is a possession or an outside force controlling you at specific moments.” Nothing. No eye-contact. Not even a nod. Was that tiny midget demon back? Did it turn Xander invisible again? Spike must be taking joy out of making him feel inferior.

Well, Xander was not stooping to his level. Taking a deep breath, he stared at the mute jackass. “I’ve been there. I know what it’s like being something’s puppet and helplessly watching myself hurt the people I love and not being able to stop it.” Sharing past experiences might help. Now Xander was bearing his soul to Spike. Figuratively. Spike would be a complete ass if he kept ignoring him.

His sincere attempt was met with a complete lack of reaction. Son of a bitch was a complete ass.

Just as he was about to lash out and spout as many filthy curses as his brain could come up with, Spike finally turned to face him. “It was more like watching someone else… do it. Kill people.”

Caught off guard, Xander’s enraged brain was trying to comprehend the words Spike just said. “Someone else?” he asked. “You mean it wasn’t you who killed them?”

“No, it was me. But I never… I’ve been losing time for a while now and always find myself waking up in odd places. Different place each time.”

Xander remembered Uncle Rory’s outrageous tales and all the weird places he’d wake up in after an all-nighter of booze. In fact, Xander would know that his uncle was back in town when he’d leave for school in the morning and find the man’s unconscious body outside in the front yard. “Something is messing with you.”

“Obviously, yeah.” Spike studied him for a drawn-out moment. “Why do you want to help me?”

“Because I don’t want you killing any more people.”

Spike tilted his chin slightly in response, as if he’d expected nothing less from him. Xander didn’t intend to sound accusatory. Old habits died hard, apparently.

“And also because Buffy cares,” he added gently.

Spike frowned.

“About you.”

There was no reaction to that. Spike just looked at him with the emotion of wet concrete, loose facial muscles and hollow eyes. Did he not believe him? Xander didn’t know what to think about that. Minutes earlier he also thought the same thing, but when considering all the facts it wasn’t far-fetched to believe that Buffy did care. It was Buffy who demanded that Spike be taken out of the school basement. It was Buffy who insisted on moving Spike to her house, and it was Buffy who assigned herself to question Spike in her room.

Speaking of the Buff, there was a click on the door. His tired friend seemed even more drained as she trudged into the room.

“How are things with Tango and Cash? Got the boy to confess?”

She shook her head. “Willow begged me to ask you for a switch.”

“I’m actually getting somewhere.”

The exhaustion vanished and was replaced with Slayer-concentration. “What did he tell you?”

“Sitting right here,” Spike protested, tugging on his bounds.

Buffy’s attention was still directed at Xander. “Did you figure out when his chip stopped working?”

He can answer for himself, thank you very much.” The hard glint that flashed across Spike’s eyes spoke volumes.

Crossing her arms, Buffy arched an eyebrow. “Okay. When did the chip stop working?”

Spike stared a tad too long at her – she began tapping her foot – and then lowered his gaze in defeat. “I don’t know.”

“When did you start blacking out?” Xander asked the embarrassed vampire.

Spike hung his head back against the chair, eyes squeezed shut for a second. “All I know is that things have been cockeyed ever since I got…” he trailed off and then locked eyes with Buffy.

“The soul,” she finished for him, a little muscle twitching in her jaw. “You never told me how you got it.”

“You never asked,” he retorted with a scoff.

Buffy’s lips curved in amusement, but her gaze was still serious. “How did you do it?”

Spike pursed his lips and then glanced at Xander. Buffy glanced at Xander, too. Xander looked between them and then rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on! What is it? Some big secret I shouldn’t know about?”

“Xander, would you mind…” Buffy had a gentle yet impatient look on her face.

“Fine. Call me when you need me.” He smacked his hands on his thighs and got up to his feet. He let out a sigh and then ambled to the door, wondering if he dared walk into Dawn’s room.

Part 7
29 August 2018 @ 02:44 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 5

Willow felt instant relief when Buffy walked out of the bedroom, unharmed. “What’s wrong?” she asked, checking her best friend for any hidden bruises.

Buffy looked at the four concerned faces for a second. “It’s Spike.”

“Did something happen?” Xander asked.

“He, uh, tried to attack me.”

Dawn took hold of her sister’s arm. “Are you okay?”

Buffy smiled at her. “Yeah. He's been feasting on humans for weeks. He's having some pretty bad withdrawals. I think we need to get him some blood.”

“Human blood?” Anya lifted an eyebrow and earned a glare from Willow and Dawn.

“No,” Buffy answered. “We should probably try to wean him off humans. He’ll have to make do with animal blood.”

“I’ll go get some,” Dawn volunteered and then extended a hand.

Buffy frowned at the hand and then up at her sister.


Rolling her eyes, Buffy walked back into the bedroom.

“Anya, why don’t you go with Dawn?” Xander suggested.

“I don’t do solo babysitting. It wasn’t fun when we used to do it together and I’m pretty sure it isn’t fun when I do it alone.”

“Babysitting? I’m sixteen years old, and Buffy has been training me.” Dawn demonstrated with perfectly choreographic spins and kicks.

“C’mon, Ahn, you said it yourself. You’re bored. This is something you get to do.” Xander’s tone was that of a parent trying to reason with a very impossible child. Willow could tell that he was trying to get rid of her so that he and Willow could talk to Buffy about Spike in private.

“Fine,” Anya huffed and then narrowed her eyes at Dawn. “But we get to buy something other than blood. Something fun.”

Dawn nodded enthusiastically and then put a finger on her lips to shush Anya as Buffy exited the bedroom and placed the money in her younger sister’s eager hand.

“Don’t spend it all,” she warned.

Dawn and Anya flashed innocent smiles and then dashed down the stairs.

The coast was finally clear. Willow glanced at Xander. He just stared at her and said nothing.

Buffy looked between them, her brows furrowed in worry. “What is it?”

Xander brushed his hair and took a step forward. “We need to talk about Spike. It seems he doesn’t remember killing those people. He’s probably being controlled by something and that explains the memory loss.”

“Do you think it’s got something to do with his chip not working?” Buffy asked.

“If he’s being controlled, then it’s not him doing the hurting, therefore, chip doesn’t work,” Xander answered.

“Because it works on intent,” Willow added. Spike couldn’t possibly hurt those people with the chip in his head, right? He hadn’t hurt a human for years now… except he’d hurt Buffy. “Here’s a piece of the puzzle, how come Spike was able to attack you last year with the chip in his head?”

Buffy’s deer caught in headlights expression dissolved into a glare directed at Xander. “You told her?”

“He didn’t, Buffy. Spike did.” There was a sting in her heart at Buffy’s reaction. She knew she shouldn’t expect Buffy to trust her after her last visit to the dark side, but it still hurt.

“Spike told you,” Buffy muttered, not meeting her gaze.

“Not the specifics. Just that he did something bad to you.” Her brain wandered through different horrifying scenarios she couldn’t dislodge. The worst thing Spike could have done was try to murder Buffy or maybe turn her. Willow could distinctly remember that becoming a vampire was Buffy’s worst nightmare when they were in high school. The horror and shame that were painted on her vampiric features was impossible to forget.

Buffy tucked strands of hair behind her ears and said nothing. The sting in Willow’s heart was for her best friend now. She was torn between helping Spike or tearing him to pieces. Not knowing what had really happened wasn’t helping setting her priorities at all.

Xander cleared his throat in an attempt to break the ice. “Maybe the chip wasn’t functioning well then?”

His question was met with silence.

Willow eyed Buffy suspiciously. “It’s something else, isn’t it?”

“Can we focus on the issue at hand?” The annoyance and desperation in Buffy’s voice made a muscle in Willow’s jaw work. She funneled all her strength into keeping her mouth shut so not to demand an explanation.

“Whatever you want,” Xander whispered tenderly, and Willow felt her face flush red. It was easy to be considerate when you were included. That wasn’t how things worked out in the past. Secrets used to be shared between Willow and Buffy. They were the gal pals. Xander was just the guy friend who didn’t understand.

“So, you think Spike is possessed?” Buffy asked him after a long pause.

Xander seemed to think about it a little. “I don’t think memory loss is part of possession, but it could be part of mind control.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Wait,” Willow interrupted, still feeling slightly miffed. “If memory loss isn’t part of possession, then why can’t you remember what happened when you were possessed by the hyena?”

A heavy silence settled over them, thicker than the tension building inside of her.

“I can. I still remember what happened.” His answer dropped into the pit of Willow’s stomach and suddenly all the suppressed anger she was roasting disappeared into oblivion.

She stared at his mortified face, long and hard. “Why did you tell us you didn’t?”

He squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed on his forehead in a way that reminded her of Giles after a stressful day. “I was… too scared and embarrassed. I wanted to forget what happened, what I did to you.” There was an old pain in his eyes that prompted her to lay a kind hand on his shoulder. She hadn’t thought about the hyena incident in years but knowing that he did remember made her heart ache for him. The guilt and pain she felt for hurting everybody last year must have been more disturbing for Xander at that young age.

“It wasn’t you,” Buffy whispered with a glint of understanding and compassion in her eyes. Willow clasped his shoulder, taking comfort in the fact that Xander’s experience wasn’t exactly like hers. He didn’t ask to be evil, it was forced on him without his consent. She couldn’t say the same thing about herself.

“I know,” he said in a hushed tone. “I think… it would have been easier if I didn’t fake the amnesia. I could’ve used someone to talk to. That’s probably what Spike feels, too.”

Buffy lowered her gaze to the floor, seeming to be lost in deep thought. If only Willow had the ability to read minds. She wanted to know. She wanted to help. She just wanted Buffy to confide in her again.

Xander cleared his throat one more time, gently removing Willow’s hand from his shoulder. “Look, I’m gonna go check on the glazier’s compound.” He looked at Buffy. “Once Spike is fed, would you let me talk to him?”

She nodded. “Sure.”

Willow watched Xander descend the stairs and then returned her attention to Buffy. The bags under her eyes were more pronounced and her face was drained and pale. “You haven’t eaten since last night. Want me to fix you a snack?”

“I don’t…”

She shook her head. “You’ll be no help on an empty stomach.”

Buffy wanted to protest again, but the long yawn that erupted made her relent. “Okay.”

With a tender smile, Willow turned around and was about to head for the stairs.

“Willow,” Buffy called after her, and when Willow locked eyes with her, shame tore through her for every petty thought she’d just had.

“I’m sorry about… I just…” Buffy stuttered, trying hard to get the words out, and Willow wished she could rip off her own skin.

“Don’t.” She hated herself for the quiver in Buffy’s lips. “You don’t have to apologize. Not to me.” What she had with Buffy was deeper than shared secrets. She didn’t need to know about what Spike did, she just had to help Buffy get past it. This wasn’t about what she wanted, it was about what Buffy wanted.

Part 6
28 August 2018 @ 02:18 pm
Fic: Support
Setting: Season 7, episode: Never Leave Me
Summary: A retelling of S7 “Never Leave Me” where Xander and Willow not only show their support against Anya and Dawn’s anti-Spike stance, but also do something about it.

This fic is answering my challenge “Supportive Friends”

Thanks wrapped in kisses and hugs to OffYourBird for her amazing and extremely helpful beta work as well as her awesome banner!

Part 4

“You should’ve seen Principal Wood’s face when I told him that Buffy was puking and oozing from both ends. I know it’s gross, but I had to think of a reason for why Buffy was a no-show at school today.” Dawn giggled at her own story, crumbs of potato chips bursting out of her mouth. She snuggled against the cushion on the couch and popped another chip into her mouth.

Xander flickered a smile at her as he examined the new window glass. He’d stuck around after he dropped Dawn from school to finish installing the window. Not that he needed a reason to stay. He spent more time here than he did in his own apartment.

“Not as hilarious as Buffy’s face when she finds out about this.” Willow smirked from her place on the other couch.

“Go ahead.” Dawn waved her off. “I can take her.”

“What if I tell her about the stain in her top which I found stuffed inside your sock drawer?”

Dawn sat up straight. “What were you doing in my room?” Her cry sent a fleck of crumbs flying to the floor.

“Laundry day.” Willow shrugged. “I could be bribed with a very cold beverage.”

“We’re out of sodas,” Dawn said uneasily. “How about freshly squeezed orange juice with ice cubes?”

Willow beamed. “No pulp.”

“You got it!” Fingers snapped, Dawn trotted to the kitchen, humming the melody of A Thousand Miles.

Xander and Willow shared a smile before he resumed cutting the glass. “So, how did the talk go last night?”

“It was okay.” Her tone was anything but okay. He looked at her and noticed her signature worried frown. “It’s just… Spike said something about Buffy.”

Now it was his turn to worry. “What about Buffy?”

“That he did something bad to her.”

Xander put down the glass cutter, his mind racing back to the night he found Buffy on the bathroom floor. The torn robe, the bruise on her thigh, and her eyes red from tears. His thoughts must have been reflected on his face because Willow’s eyes grew wide instantly.

“You know what it is? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“Look, we should be focusing more on whether Spike killed those people or not.” It wasn’t his place to tell. He’d already opened his big mouth and told Dawn about it. Buffy didn’t take that well. Besides, they had more persistent problems at hand. “Now come over here and help me hold the new pane in position.”

There was a wary look in her face; nobody liked being out of the loop. She reluctantly got up and walked over to where he was standing to lend an extra set of hands.

“You’re right.” She let out a sigh as he inserted a glazier point on both sides of the window. “I asked Spike about the killings. He said he wished he knew.”

“He wished he knew? He doesn’t know?”

Willow shook her head.

Once the window pane was secure, he gestured for her to let go of the glass. He began to add glazer points every three to four inches around the edges. Willow slid onto the nearby couch and started to fiddle with the Lay’s bag Dawn left behind.

Xander ran what she had just told him about Spike over and over in his head. “Could it be that Spike was being controlled by something? He was probably possessed and has no recollection of what happened.”

“Like when you were possessed by the hyena,” she pointed out.

“Right,” he croaked out, except it wasn’t true. He could still remember. The creepy Regan MacNeil experience was ages ago, but the terror of being unable to stop himself from hurting his friends still lived within his memories. His attempts to forget failed miserably because of the nightmares that had invaded his mind, playing everything in their most vivid, hideous details. Then more horrific stuff happened to them and being possessed was just another horrible thing on that list.

The front door jerked open, jolting him out of the horror zone. Anya strode inside and threw herself on the couch Willow used to occupy. She glared at their blinking faces. “I’m here. Entertain me.”

“Entertain you?” Xander said incredulously.

“Yeah, well, since I’m no longer a vengeance demon and I have no Magic Box to run, I’ve got nothing to do all day. You two are the cause of my painfully long and dull days, so it’s your job to amuse me.”

“Us?” Willow exclaimed.

Anya pointed at Xander. “Ditched me at the altar, hence the vengeance demon gig which I lost.” She raised the finger of her other hand at Willow. “Destroyed my source of income during your glorious wacky evil days.” She clapped her hands. “There. You both caused me pain. Time to make up for it.”

“There you go!” Dawn waltzed in with a glass of orange juice and had the liberty of adding a straw and a slice of an orange.

Anya took in the scene before her. “Wait. You’re making beverages for the previously evil? I’ve been down that road, too. Serve me.”

Dawn scoffed. “You’ve got nothing on me.”

“Buffy’s purse with the torn stripe which you’re hiding under your bed?”

“What?” Dawn’s mouth hung open. “Would you people please stop going into my room? Why were you there? I hope it’s not another Laundry Day.”

“I was bored.” Anya walked over to the couch Willow sat on and seized the Lay’s bag. She snagged a chip and chewed on it noisily. “Like I said, no job. I figured I’d find more items you stole from the Magic Shop that I missed at that unfortunate birthday party.”

Dawn scowled at the way Anya munched on her potato chips. She snatched the bag and hid it behind her back. “Does it matter? There’s no longer a Magic Box!”

Anya puffed her cheeks in offence. “Rub that in my face, why don’t you?”

A sudden racket upstairs quieted everybody, and then Spike’s menacing growl broke the air. Xander sprinted to the stairs followed by the others and charged to Buffy’s bedroom.

Part 5